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WAJA World Press Freedom Day statement

(WAJA/IFEX) - 3 May 2011 - The West African Journalists Association (WAJA) today, 3 May 2011, stands in solidarity with fallen colleagues in the region and victims of threats, harassment and legal intimidation in Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Sierra Leone and Senegal.

As in past years, West African journalists are being tortured, victimised and targeted, specifically for doing their work. WAJA is deeply concerned about recent moves in Senegal, once proclaimed a beacon of democracy in the sub-region, to use the ambit of the law to threaten free expression. Developments in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Togo are also cause for concern. WAJA calls on West African member states to honour their commitment to the protection and promotion of freedom of the press.

WAJA also welcomes positive developments in the past year whereby African journalists have worked closely with African institutions, in particular the African Union, the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, and ECOWAS, to put together draft Resolutions and legislative texts on the Safety and Security of Journalists and Access to Information. We do hope that our respective States will complement the efforts of journalists and concerned citizen groups to append their signatures and bring to life these aspirations of the West African people.

WAJA calls on the Governments of Nigeria and Niger to follow the footsteps of the Liberian Leadership by signing into law the Freedom of Information Act.

We also call on the Côte d'Ivoire Government of president elect Alassane Ouattara to ensure that there are no counter attacks or reprisals on media seen to have been supportive of the former government of Laurent Gbagbo.

Our hearts and minds are with the families of missing Gambian journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and fallen colleagues. WAJA extends our solidarity to colleagues in Eritrea - killed, disappeared and detained - and avails its services to the initiatives of the Federation of African Journalists to improve the state of affairs of journalists and the media in the country.

WAJA calls on all its affiliates to continue their efforts to strengthen our Unions, to maintain our Unity and to aggressively defend the interests of West African journalists.

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